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23 October 2017 @ 10:46 am
_The Boy_ part 5  

"Yeah." Uqpy knelt beside his patroller. "Heartbeat and breathing, but nobody's home. That didn't feel like a normal stun."

"An instinctive variant, perhaps. You may want to scan both him and the boy, make sure there's no damage. Although they probably just used a sleep spell on the boy, to remove him from his room." Ebsa glanced at all the others, gathering to stare at the legs. "I suspect you'll be wanting a warrant for a hostile Truth Match."

"Yes. And I suspect I'll be arresting several other people, once he gives me the names. This is going to be really ugly." Uqpy shook his head and started tapping at his comp.

Uqpy broke off to join the Priests for Axbe's Truth Match. Then sent the boy home, while he and a trio of cops extricated the Administrator.

Uqpy looked at Ebsa and shook his head. "So, I guess I'll have to add you to the list of people I hate to have come home for a visit. For now . . . just go away."

Ebsa walked out to his car and found Jorge waiting for him.

"I suppose I should thank you."

"Oh . . . Jorge . . . let's not be friends. That's a damn good kid, who's hit a bit of a rough patch. The damn good part is partly Chacha and partly your influence. Yeah, sounds funny, but you never were a back stabber, and you’re the one he sees as his dad. I'll just find a medgician who can mold lenses, and get back out of his life."

"Think so, huh?" Jorge glowered and stalked away.


Ebsa drove back to Montevideo and his hotel. Showered off a smoky residue and went back to bed. Dreamed weird stuff all night, too many involving buildings full of kids going up in flames.

He gave up, packed up and drove back to the enclave.

He walked down to the deserted beach for exercises. Ran a kilometer north, then turned around and ran back.

This is so . . . complicated. I don't know if I'm being selfish or selfless. Responsible or irresponsible. It's . . . too damn late to ever be much of anything to that kid. And I don't know if I want to be.

I feel like a failure.

He walked back to his car, drove to the parilla.

Maybe if I'm lucky Jorge will beat me up. How's that for handing responsibility off to someone else. If I'm forced, I don't have to decide. Pathetic.

He walked in before the lunch crowd came. Got glares from everyone there. Axbe included.

Jorge stalked over and glared . . . up at him.

"After this, where the hell is he going to go to school?"

"I remember how you hated the Clan . . . so why don't you really piss them off by renting an apartment. Chacha and the kid can live there, so long as you're the official renter. Then he can go to a normal public school."

Growl. "Don't tell me what to do." He stalked away.

Ebsa tapped at his comp . . . all the permits for a minor child traveling to Embassy for medical treatment were done.

"Chacha? If you'll sign here and here I'll haul Axbe off to get his eyes fixed." Ebsa looked around at the boy.

"Huh. Wasted all your money on these glasses didn't you?"

"Happens. If you like them, you can always get plain glass put in them."

Rolled eyes. "Do you really think you're funny?"

"Meh. I try." He watched Chacha staring at the screen blankly.

He reached over and tapped the right spot. "Written by a bloody bureaucrat. Sign here on this one."

She scribbled her finger across the line.

"And then here."

"So now what?" The boy scowled. "Do we just go, or do you have to make an appointment three weeks ahead?"

"Umm, don't think it's that bad." Ebsa pulled out his comm. Sent text. So when can I bring Axbe for lens modification or whatever the Fallen call it?

Come ahead, we're not busy today.

See you in two hours.

"We can go now." Ebsa looked at Chacha. "If I can't get him home for dinner, I'll call."

The boy was stiff and uncertain in the car. "Is this place in Montevideo? I've been to Montevideo, it's no big deal."

"Actually, we're going to take the corridor . . ."

"Corridor!" He sat up in alarm.

"To Gate City. Then we're going to take the gate to Embassy, and go to the Comet Fall Hospital."


He glanced over. The boy appeared to be frozen. Apart from the fast breathing.

"Well, I said I was a Directorate Agent."

The boy swallowed. "I figured you were exaggerating. Everybody does. And all you do is think and talk. I don't think you're really on an Action Team. You aren't mean enough."

"Mean . . . is only rarely an asset. Anywhere."

The boy eyed him and curled up in the seat, staring out the window. "I'm not afraid of corridors and gates."

Ebsa grinned and headed for Montevideo. The corridors were located roughly halfway between there and the enclave. A suburban mall had been built just a bit too far away from both to ever be convenient for either. The District office of the Ministry of Transportation had purchased the bankrupt site and installed the corridors.

Almost perfect. Lots of parking, and a few stores and restaurants have opened, even though the corridors are on the outside wall.

"The corridor for Paris is pedestrian during the day, and used for freight at night. Sort of, Paris being five time zones ahead of them. Must be weird, commuting from here."

The boy nodded. Still silent.

"That's the Paris corridor, there. Caracas is the longest line, always is. Regional government business, I suppose. And this one is Gate City."

The boy peered. "Gee, how did you figure that out? The big sign above it, maybe?"

"Smart ass. Thought you couldn't read."

Scowl. "I'm not stupid. I just had trouble seeing."

Ebsa paused to let the freighter ahead get well clear, then drove through. A slight lurch was all the happened. And the sun coming from a different angle and a thirty degree drop in the temperature of the air blowing through the car. Instant transition from warm summer to chilly winter.

Ebsa steered out onto the street, while punching up the heat. "When they first installed the corridors they put them out here for the sake of security. Which they finally realized was silly. But also a good idea to not dump all the traffic into downtown. Rumors persist that there's a corridor from the Director's office to Paris, but I really doubt it."

The boy snorted. "Yeah, like those stupid stories about the Warriors returning."

Ebsa shut his mouth, cleared his throat. "So, here is the Gate Security Area."

Indrawn breath. "What if they won't let me in? Will they arrest me?"

"Nah. They'd arrest me for smuggling a brat." Ebsa rolled down his window and clicked the send on his comp. By the time they'd gotten to the head of the line, all they got was a quick glance and they were waved through. Main street to the gate field, a widespread grid of roads. The twelve Colony gates, and then Embassy. He lined up with the rest, and waited for the incoming traffic to clear.

Ra'd was on duty on the far side. Straight faced but with a twinkle in his eyes.

"Let's see. Ebsa and son . . . yep, he looks like trouble. Must be yours."

Ebsa . . . gestured and drove on out of the Embassy yard.

"That's Disco, across over there." He pointed and the boy peered, turning in his seat to watch until he turned down the side street and into a parking lot. Mostly empty. Cars were an unnecessary inconvenience in the compact town.

The kid was looking around wide-eyed. "I'm Across. I'm on a whole different world."

A giggle as the boy's door opened. Paer, grinning fit to burst. "Sure are. Axbe? Do they call you Ax?"

"Sometimes." The boy looked a bit taken aback by Paer's enthusiasm.

"Well, c'mon in. Fortunately we're having a slow day so there's no waiting around."

Ebsa checked the time. "Other than it took us almost three hours to get here. So . . . are you doing this or the infamous Lady Gisele?"

"You know, I really do need to start calling her Dr. Heath." Paer led the way inside.

Ebsa glanced at Axbe.

He was staring around, turning to walk backwards as they passed a man with purple hair and corpse-like skin.

Ignoring the meaningless twitter of the adults, or absorbing it all? He's only ten. Ignoring us, I hope.

Three floors up, Paer headed down a long hallway. "We've discharged all but three of the Project Dystopia people, so the hospital is practically empty."

She led the way into a room with a chair . . . with implements on about six arms.

Axbe stopped dead, and no wonder.

"You know? If some sadist tried to make a nice comfy recliner for his torture victims, it would look just like this." Ebsa winced. "Err, probably shouldn't have said that . . . "

"Ebsa! Honestly!"

Axbe looked a bit spooked . . . and a bit fascinated, eyeing the array of arms full of . . . lenses and lights and pointy things that hovered over and to the sides of the recliner. "Yeah. Robot torture machine. Cool!"

Ebsa looked over at a chuckle.

The woman entering was tall, rich brown hair with a few threads of gray, big blue eyes, twinkling in amusement. Middle aged, balanced between professional and motherly. "Oh, most of this stuff needs to be put away, we just never got around to making proper cabinets for it. Now, young man, I understand you want to lose the glasses?"

Axbe swallowed. "Yeah. Senora. Ma'am. I only got them a few days ago. I . . . didn't realize the world looked like this . . . that it was so easy to look at it."

"Easy to look at . . . what a wonderful observation. So . . . " The lady bent most of the robot arms further back, and pulled forward the lens with the halo of light around it. "Let's just take a look at these eyes of yours."

The boy climbed into the chair without a qualm.

Ebsa stood back while the women took turns peering through the lens and using medical terms.

" . . . and a more rigid lens than normal." Paer stepped back.

The older woman nodded. "Perfectly healthy eyes, otherwise. Now, remember the chemical structure of the lenses we worked on last month? Doing just as we did to rejuvenate those lenses, will work fine here. But without cataracts to complicate the process, it will be quite simple. Proceed."

Paer leaned to look through the lens again. Closed her eyes briefly.

"Very good. Now, young man, we're going to let you relax for an hour. More to the point, we're going to let your eyes adjust to what we just did. And then we'll see what we need to do about the focus and symmetry of those lenses."

Paer grinned. "C'mon you two. I'll take you to lunch, or whatever meal this is for you."

They walked across the plaza, Axbe taking his glasses off and on and getting a bit whiney about them "ruining his eyes all over again."

"Nah, they're just in between, right now." Ebsa eyed the big blocky Disco building. "Someday I'm going to analyze that architecture, and figure out how they made it so intimidating."

"It's got to be spells." Paer grinned. "And the inside is much nicer. But where we're headed is a restaurant called the Kitchen, back behind it. I think the cooks there could give you a run for the money, Ebsa-the-Chef."

Indeed. He made note of the spices in the lasagna, and ate way too much really excellent fresh bread. Axbe poked tentatively at his, then wolfed it down, and cherry pie with ice cream after.

Then they strolled back to the hospital where Dr. Heath showed Paer how to mold lenses, once they were properly pliable and healthy.

Axbe was grinning when they left, looking all around. Occasionally touching his face, as if to assure himself of the absence of glasses.

Ebsa steered them back through the gates in the twilight . . . into late afternoon Gate City . . . and then to Montevideo as the sun set.

"Why don't you call your mother and tell her we'll be there in about an hour?"

Axbe bristled. "I'm not a little kid, who needs to watched over all the time."

"Umm . . . right." Ebsa let it hang there.

The boy raised a dismissive shoulder. Pulled out a comm and tapped at it. "Hola, Madre, be home in an hour. What's for dinner?"

A pause. "Por que if it's something I don't like, I'll make the . . . I'll make Ebsa stop somewhere."

Glare. "Ain't funny."

Ebsa tried to stop grinning. "Of course not. Perfectly logical. So are we stopping?"

"Si. She's making brussel sprouts."

(Anonymous) on October 23rd, 2017 07:35 pm (UTC)
Having just taken two kids for new glasses scripts in the last month, robot torture machine is a perfect description. Now I have to answer "Mom, what's so funny?" Why do you make me laugh out loud?

Robert AllabandRobert Allaband on October 23rd, 2017 07:40 pm (UTC)
I wonder how long it will take the kid to figure out that it was the Presidents daughter that fixed his eyes.
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on October 23rd, 2017 07:57 pm (UTC)
Axbe has never seen Vids clearly so perhaps never?

After the treatment, he would have to match Ebsa's girlfriend the medician with the unknown Paer.
James ResoldierJames Resoldier on October 23rd, 2017 10:00 pm (UTC)
I'll be waiting for the first moment he sees Paer on a video somewhere....
muirecanmuirecan on October 23rd, 2017 11:26 pm (UTC)
I figure it will be amusing when Axbe sees a vid of Emre's speech and the group of warriors guarding him. Fortunately for the world they haven't needed a philosopher of justice yet. :)
(Anonymous) on October 24th, 2017 01:00 am (UTC)
Under the supervision of a Comet Fall Old God.
Michawl DolbearMichawl Dolbear on October 24th, 2017 09:46 pm (UTC)
Citizens of the Empire are still pretty ignorant about the Fallen so even if Axbe was paying attention Lady Gisele/ Dr Heath would mean little until the "New History" gets taught in schools.